Benoît Chassériau

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Benoît Chassériau (also known as Benito Chassériau or Chasserieux) (19 August 1780 - 27 September 1844) was a French diplomat, French spy and Minister of the Interior of Simón Bolívar in Cartagena, Colombia[1][2]


  • 1798-1801 - Financial Controller of two important provinces of Upper Egypt

Benoît Chassériau came very early in the administration and made the memorable Egypt campaign. Although very young, he administered as Financial Controller, two important provinces of Upper Egypt from 1798 to 1801 under the command of general François-Étienne Damas and then under general Augustin-Daniel Belliard.

  • 1802-1807 - Treasurer-General and Secretary General of the French colony, Santo Domingo

Appointed Treasurer-General, during the expedition to Santo Domingo in 1802, Benoît Chassériau held the position of Secretary General in the government of general Jean-Louis Ferrand in the eastern part of Santo Domingo, ceded to France by the Treaty of Basel. During the invasion of the peninsula by the imperial armies, this part of the territory of Santo Domingo, remained more Spanish than French rose. Taken prisoner, Benoît Chassériau has managed to escape but maritime war prevented him from returning to France. He visited the West Indies and the mainland of Spanish America. Benoit Chassériau was one of the French exiles at the origin of the city of Aigleville and the Vine and Olive Colony.

* 1813 - Appointed by Simón Bolívar Ministry of the Interior (Colombia) and the Police in Cartagena, Colombia

Chassériau was appointed in 1813, Minister of Interior and Police of the government of Cartagena with his friend Antoine Leleux, who had the portfolio of War.[1][2][3]

* January 1814 – Commander of the secret expedition against Portobelo (Panama) - the first expedition for the liberation of Panama

Benoît Chassériau as commander[4] took a very active part in the first expedition led by independent against Portobelo (Panama) and Santa Marta. He left Cartagena with 460 men on board 8 schooners and attacked Portobelo (Panama) in January 16, 1814. This expedition was a failure and was rejected by the Spanish royalists controlled by governor Joaquín Rodríguez Valcárcel. The second expedition conducted in 1819 by Scottish general Gregor MacGregor was a success.

At that time, Benoît Chassériau belonged to the Masonic Lodge of Cartagena “Las Tres Virtudes Teologales” which belonged to many revolutionaries including the clergyman Juan Fernandez de Sotomayor, the future bishop of Cartagena. Benoît Chassériau was the representative of the lodge to the Grand Orient of France. Belong to a lodge was more a sign of adherence to philosophical or religious principles in a revolutionary goal for freedom and against Spain.

  • 1822-1825 - Employed by the Department of Foreign Affairs as a ‘non official’ agent in South America

Returned to France in 1822, François-René de Chateaubriand then Minister of Foreign Affairs sent him on a foreign posting from 1823 to 1824.[5] Chateaubriand gave two informal postings to Benoît Chassériau: the first mission was to ensure the mediation of France between Spain and the new State and the second mission to facilitate trade relations between Colombia and the French Caribbean colonies mainly Martinique.[6]

  • 1826-1830 - Employed by the Department of the Navy, as agent in the Danish island of Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
  • 1832-1833 - Employed by the Department of Foreign Affairs, as a Consul of France in St. Thomas
  • 1835-1839 - Honorary Consul accredited in Puerto Rico
  • 1840-1844 – Consul of France in Puerto Rico

Chassériau was accredited in 1835 as Consul of France in Puerto Rico where there was a population of 450,000 souls - of which 12,000 French.

Benoît Chassériau died in Puerto Rico in September 27, 1844.

The French friend of Simón Bolívar

Benoît Chassériau maintained for many years a friendly relationship with Simón Bolívar who in his correspondence called him “my French friend”.

  • In 1815, Benoît Chassériau indirectly saved the life of Simón Bolívar in Kingston.

The December 10, 1815 a few hours before the assassination attempt, Chassériau visits Bolivar and gives him money to seek alternative accommodation. Thus, the Liberator left the room where José Antonio Páez had slept for several nights and depended on the guesthouse Rafael Pisce at the corner of Prince and White streets. The same night, Pio the servant of Bolivar and Paez plunged his murderous knife into the neck of Captain Felix Amestoy, thinking it was the Liberator.[7][8][9]

  • In 1816, Benoît Chassériau helped finance Simón Bolívar expedition to los Cayos in the southwestern part of Haiti.

In order to collect 3,000 pesos, Benoît Chassériau formed a consortium with Jean Pavageau, Michael Scott, George Robertson, S. Campbell and Maxwell Hyslop. On his part, Benoît Chassériau lent the sum of 404 pesos to Simón Bolívar. To express his gratitude, Bolivar asked in 1827 the repayment of the loan by increasing interest at 6% per annum from 1 January 1816.[10][11]


Benoît Chassériau was the last of 18 children of Jean Chassériau, merchant, ship owner, advisor to the City of La Rochelle. He married in 1806, Marie Madeleine Couret de la Blaquière, daughter of a wealthy French owner in Santo Domingo. He was the father of five children:


  • Knight of the Legion of Honor
  • Knight of the Royal Order of Dannebrog
  • Knight of Isabella the Catholic


  • Daniel Gutiérrez Ardila, Benoît Chassériau en Colombie in "Les commissaires de la Restauration auprès des Etats hispano-américains (1818-1826)", Cahiers de l’Institut d’histoire de la Révolution française, Paris - 2014
  • Jean-Baptiste Nouvion, "Chassériau - Correspondance oubliée", Les Amis de Théodore Chassériau, Paris - 2014
  • Patrick Puigmal, "Diccionario de los militares napoleónicos durante la independencia de Argentina, Chile y Perú", Centro de Investigaciones Diego Barros Arana, Chili - 2013
  • Jean-Louis Vaudoyer, "L’histoire de Benoit Chassériau, consul de France à Puerto Rico", Conférence du 17 juin 1935 à l'assemblée générale de la Société des Amis du Louvre, Paris - 1935


Archives of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs - individual file n° 889 Benoît Chassériau


  1. 1.0 1.1 ‘Indiana University Publications: Social science series, Volumes 8-10 p.58 - Publisher Indiana University, 1939
  2. 2.0 2.1 ‘Selected Writings of Bolivar: 1823-1830’ – Ed. Colonial Press, 1951 - Latin America
  3. ‘Simón Bolívar, más allá del mito: una reconstrucción documental de la vida de El Libertador, don Simón Bolívar, sus relaciones con El Protector, don José de San Martín y sus conexiones con la pequeña y grande historia de América’ - Guillermo Ruíz Rivas - Ediciones Tercer Mundo, 1964
  4. son nom est déformé en espagnol et s'écrit Benito Chaserieux – voir ‘La Independencia de Panamá en 1821: antecedentes, balance y proyecciones’ par Celestino Andrés Araúz - edition Academia Panameña de la Historia, 1980 – page 83 et ‘Panamá y sus relaciones internacionales: Estudio introductorio - Volume 15 of Biblioteca de la cultura panameña Volume 1 of Panamá y sus relaciones internacionales’ par Celestino Andrés Araúz – edition EUPAN, Editorial Universitaria, 1994 – page 17
  5. ‘Bulletin de la Société Chateaubriand – Édition La Vallée-aux-Loups, p.8 à 10, 1979
  6. ‘‘The Beinecke Lesser Antilles Collection at Hamilton College: A Catalogue of Books, Manuscripts, Prints, Maps, and Drawings, 1521-1860’ par Samuel Jones Hough et Penelope R. O. Hough – Editions University Press of Florida, 1994 - pages 292, 293, 297, 299, 300 et 301
  7. ‘Bolívar y los emigrados patriotas en el Caribe (Trinidad, Curazao, San Thomas, Jamaica, Haití)’ - Par Paul Verna – Edition INCE, 1983
  8. ‘Simón Bolívar: Ensayo de interpretación biográfica a través de sus documentos’ - Par Tomás Polanco Alcántara - Edition Academia Nacional de la Historia, 1994 - Page 505
  9. ‘Petión y Bolívar: una etapa decisiva en la emancipación de Hispanoamérica, 1790-1830’ - Colección Bicentenario - Par Paul Verna - Ediciones de la Presidencia de la República, 1980 - Page 131
  10. ‘Memorias del general O'Leary: Documentos Daniel Florencio O'Leary, Simón Bolívar O'Leary, Manuel Pérez Vila – Ed. Ministerio de la Defensa, 1981
  11. ‘Robert Sutherland: un amigo de Bolívar en Haití : contribución al estudio de los destierros del Libertador en Haití, y de sus expediciones de Los Cayos y de Jacmel’ - Paul Verna – Ed. Fundación John Boulton, 1966 - Haiti - p. 23 et 25